Audible sighs of relief accompanied the thunderous applause following private equity fund founder Robert F. Smith’s announcement of the $40,000,000 fund he established to pay off the student loans of the Morehouse College class of 2019.
Mr. Smith also reignited the debate around the enormous debts many students are amassing before they can begin their adult lives. Paying for college without student loans gets harder to do every year. One report by the Federal Reserve says more than half of students in school in 2018 have taken on debt. What’s more, a Student Loan Hero study found the average graduate walks off the stage with a diploma in one hand and a bill for $29,800 in the other.
It doesn’t have to be this way.
Start in a Community College
If it even comes up, most employers only ask what your major was and where your diploma was earned. In other words, people only care about what you studied and the school from which you graduated.
Nobody asks where you started.
Community colleges are a great way to get your first two years of school at a significant discount then transfer to a four-year institution to get years three and four. This will reduce your costs by a significant amount, which, in turn, will help make the following approaches more effective.
Work Your Way Through
An old car maintenance commercial featured a mechanic uttering the tagline, “You can pay me now — or pay me later.” The implication being deferred maintenance costs you, one way or another. Similarly, you will pay for college, one way or another. Working your way through and paying as you go will ultimately cost less, though it might take more time to graduate.
However, when you factor in the experience you’re gaining by working — and factor out the interest payments you won’t have to make — this could well be an attractive alternative. This is particularly true if you can find work related to your major. What’s more, you might even be able to work at the university as part of a work-study program.
Employer Tuition Reimbursement
Another plus of working your way through school is the fact some companies pay for their employees to better their education. A good question to ask when an interviewer asks if you have any is, “Do you offer tuition reimbursement?”
Companies offering it usually do so with the caveat you work there for a certain number of years afterward — which is why you want to be sure you like working there before you accept their assistance.
Apply for Grants and Scholarships
The financial aid office at your school has a comprehensive list of grants and scholarships for which you can apply — many of which go unclaimed each year. What’s more, they are available for purposes far beyond the athletic and academic financial assistance with which most people are familiar.
There are all sorts of ways to qualify, including performing public services, majoring in certain courses of study, your ethnic heritage or your parent’s profession. Bottom line, there’s free money out there. It often goes untapped and you can find it with a bit of research. By the way, if you’re working in an underserved profession, you’ll have a really good shot at this.
As these Freedom Debt Relief reviews reveal, student loan debt can be quite debilitating when it comes to keeping your finances on track — especially when it mingles with credit card debt and personal loans.
Finding ways to pay for college without student loans can help you get off to a great start in terms of building your career and fashioning a life for yourself.